Wealthsimple Trade Review 2023
Wealthsimple Trade Review
- Fees and Commissions
- Ease of Sign-up
- Account Options
- Investment Options
- Platform and Mobile App
- Customer Service
Wealthsimple Trade Review Summary:
Wealthsimple Trade is a Canadian online broker that offers 100% commission-free trading and no account minimum. It is operated by Wealthsimple, a well known financial company in Canada, and our choice for the best Canadian robo advisor service.
Customers choose Wealthsimple mainly because its robo advisor service is so easy to set up and allows them to put everything on autopilot. Just create an account, answer a few questions about your goals and preferences, and viola, you have got yourself a few options of potential portfolios tailored to your needs.
At the same time, you can make sure your portfolio will reflect your values when it comes to investing money. Keeping up with new fintech trends, in 2020 Wealthsimple became one of the few platforms in Canada to offer cryptocurrency trading.
Unfortunately, in this case you get what you pay for: few account and investment options, very little support, and a platform that is uninformative, and comparatively unresponsive. With a higher than average management fee, we definitely would not expect this to be the case.
Our Wealthsimple Trade review breaks down why we’re so unimpressed with this platform and shows you how it compares to Qtrade, our most recommended Canadian broker.
- No fees or commissions
- Easy to open an account
- $50 cash bonus on your first deposit
- 1.5% conversion rate on US trades
- No real-time quotes unless you pay for premium service
- Deposits over $1500 can take up to 3 days to process
- Only offers 3 kinds of accounts
- ETFs and stocks only
- No international markets
- Nonexistent customer service
- Next to no research tools available
Even though Wealthsimple Trade offers commission free trading, there are still much better brokers to choose from.See our full list of the best Canadian brokers
What is Wealthsimple Trade?
Wealthsimple Trade is an online brokerage platform that allows you to build and manage your own investment portfolio. It’s one part of Wealthsimple, a company with 1.5 million customers and $8.4 billion in assets under management. Wealthsimple has been around since 2014 and Wealthsimple Trade launched in 2019.
Unlike Wealthsimple Invest and robo-advisors like it, Wealthsimple Trade is a 100% active investing platform. Investors with Wealthsimple Trade research, choose, buy, and sell stocks and ETFs themselves. The returns can be greater if you do your research correctly, but the risks are also far higher.
For a great breakdown of the differences between robo-advisors and online brokers, check out our Wealthsimple vs. Questrade 2023 comparison.
In this Wealthsimple Trade Review, we give you the full scoop on all the details of this online broker. We break down the pros and the cons of the platform and see how it compares to Qtrade, our favourite out of the Best Online Brokers in Canada. Finally, we give you our final verdict on whether this platform is worth your time (and money, if you’re trading in crypto and US assets).
Is Wealthsimple Trade Safe?
Wealthsimple is, indeed, legit. Wealthsimple Trade is regulated by IIROC (Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada) and has industry backing to the tune of $380 million from some of the world’s biggest banks. Their majority owner is Power Corporation of Canada, which has been around for more than 100 years.
Not only is Wealthsimple legit, it’s safe. Their custodial broker, Canadian ShareOwner (the company that holds your funds) is Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) protected up to $1 million per account. They use 2-factor authentication for their apps and browser interface and feature bank-level security including a 128-bit SSL certificate and the backup programs and firewalls that are standard in the financial industry.
Wealthsimple Trade Review: Trading Fees & Commissions
Wealthsimple Trade was the first online brokerage in Canada to charge no commissions at all. It has since been joined by National Bank Discount Brokerage. Most other online brokerages charge between $4.95 and $9.95 per trade.
Wealthsimple Trade gives you free access to thousands of stocks and ETFs on North America’s largest stock exchanges, as well as 20+ kinds of cryptocurrency if you add on Wealthsimple Crypto.
Now, any honest Wealthsimple Trade review has to note near the top that even though you are not paying upfront for your trade, you are paying through the selling of your market trade information to meta-buyers. These buyers pay Wealthsimple for your trading information so that they can then front-run trades using algorithms.
Basically, the phrase: If you aren’t paying for the product, you ARE the product – has never been more true.
Wealthsimple also makes substantial money on the currency conversion fees from when you purchase US stocks, as well as the cash balances sitting in your account.
You have no required minimum balance to begin investing, and you can purchase fractional shares as low as $1. This is helpful if you’re starting out and don’t have a lot to invest.
Note: not all shares are available for fractional share purchase.
Account And Transaction Fees
Wealthsimple Trade really means it when they say no fees for trading.
They do charge a 1.5% base conversion fee when making US trades, so keep that in mind if you’re interested in cross-border investment. If you plan to try strategies like Norbert’s Gambit, this is not the platform for you.
They also charge a hefty 1.5-2% fee for cryptocurrency transactions.
There is a $20 fee for paper statements (save a tree, everyone). There’s also an optional premium service, which we’ll get into shortly.
Wealthsimple has been criticized in the past for shifting customers away from their previous laser focus on low-fee investing to its much more profitable cryptocurrency trading arm, as well as its trading platform.
Available Investments With Wealthsimple Trade
Wealthsimple Trade gives you access to thousands of US and Canadian stocks and ETFs that are listed on the following exchanges:
- Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)
- TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV)
- New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
- Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE)
- BATS Exchange
Wealthsimple Trade does not support investments other than stocks or ETFs. This means that the following assets are not available for trading on this platform:
- Mutual Funds
- Preferred Shares
- Securities that trade over the counter (OTC)
- Forwards & Futures
- Rights and Warrants
- Investment Savings Accounts & Money Markets
- Non-North American ETFs and stocks
Wealthsimple Trade Review: Account Options
One area where Wealthsimple Trade really falls down is their lack of account options. While other leading Canadian online brokers offer a wide range of account options including RESPs, LIRA, RIF, and corporate accounts, Wealthsimple Trade offers only:
- Personal accounts
This is enough to get started with, especially if you’re a beginner or casual investor, but it’s a major downside if you’re looking for anything but the absolute basics.
Wealthsimple Trade Premium Program: Real-time Stock Prices
Two other downsides of Wealthsimple Trade are the 3-4 day hold on deposits over $1500 and the fact that the stock prices and market data on the platform are 15 minutes old. If either (or both!) of those things bother you, you could consider registering for Wealthsimple Trade Premium.
For $3/mo (plus tax) you can access Snap Quotes (real time stock prices and up to the minute market data available between 9:30 am and 4:00 pm Eastern time). You also quadruple your maximum instant deposit, allowing you to instantly add up to $5000 every 3-4 business days.
On the one hand, we’re happy they offer these options for a reasonable price… but on the other hand, if you’re serious enough about trading that you need up to the minute stock prices, there are other platforms that give you more data and analytics, plus more asset and account options, as part of their basic package.
You can learn more about what other trading apps have to offer in our collection of The Best Stock Trading Apps in Canada.
How To Sign Up For Wealthsimple Trade
To open a Wealthsimple account, you must be a Canadian resident at the legal age of majority for your province (18 or 19, depending on where you live).
Signing up is easy. First, download the app. Then enter your personal information and banking info. Wealthsimple will ask for your:
- Full Name
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Date of Birth
- Phone Number
- Employment information
Once you’ve linked a bank account, you can move money into your account (you should be able to deposit up to $1500 instantly, but larger transactions can take about 3 days) and then begin investing.
If you have a Wealthsimple Invest account you can use your existing credentials to open an account, but your accounts will be separate. You can have separate TFSAs, RRSPs, and personal accounts with both Wealthsimple Trade and Wealthsimple Invest.
Wealthsimple Trade Welcome Bonus
Get a $50 cash bonus and commission-free trades when you open a Wealthsimple Trade or Crypto account and deposit and trade at least $150. Sign up today to take advantage of this offer!
Features, Tools, And Ease of Use
Wealthsimple’s trading platform is not our favourite (to say the least).
It’s streamlined to the point of oversimplification. Also, the browser version is relatively new and prone to be buggy.
The Wealthsimple site has some video resources like an investing master class that “will turn you into a financial genius in less than 45 minutes.” [Spoiler alert: it doesn’t]
Wealthsimple Trade Mobile App
Wealthsimple Trade was Canada’s first free trading app.
It’s currently ranked at #2 on the Apple store with a 4.7 star ranking and over 100K ratings. They pride themselves on a clean design and intuitive user interface… which is why we were surprised when we tried it and found it clunky and confusing.
While it does provide basic performance information for assets, the Wealthsimple interface doesn’t provide you with the analysis tools or in-depth information that many investors look for. You also don’t have a way to automatically buy or sell investments. And unless you’re giving Wealthsimple $3/month for the premium service, your stock quotes are always 15 minutes out of date. It’s definitely tailored for the new or casual investor.
Another downside for Wealthsimple Invest customers who want to try their hand at active investing: your Wealthsimple Invest and Wealthsimple Trade accounts aren’t linked. You can transfer funds between them, but only as cash.
Wealthsimple Trade Review: Customer Service
Wealthsimple Trade is designed for investors who want to do it themselves – and they took that to heart with their customer service!
They have a Trade Help Centre (basically an FAQ) plus an email address in case you can’t find the answer to a question yourself. In comparison to the best online brokerages, it’s extremely limited.
The MDJ editorial team was unanimous in saying that we had received more complaints about the Wealthsimple Trade platform in 2021 than any other broker-related issue from any of the platform options.
Wealthsimple Trade or Wealthsimple Invest?
Wealthsimple offers two ways to invest. In this section of our Wealthsimple Trade Review, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each.
Through Wealthsimple Trade, investors will take on a more hands-on approach. They will trade their own stocks and ETFs, and will need to make sure to rebalance it regularly.
When you use Wealthsimple Trade, you will have access to:
- Commission-free trading
- North American Stock Exchanges (but will need to pay a 1.5% currency exchange fee in order to trade US stocks)
- Crypto trading
- Canadian savings accounts such as TFSA and RRSP
What you will not be able to do with a Wealthsimple Trade account is purchase Mutual Funds, or jump onto an IPO purchase. Also, you won’t be able to trade on your computer as the web-based app is only in beta.
Even when you are trading on the app, there have been known to be lags in getting up-to-the-minute quotes as well as accessing your funds when you want to withdraw.
Wealthsimple, also called Wealthsimple Invest, is a robo advisor service that offers a diverse range of portfolio choices for clients to choose from, making it easy to start investing.
When you use Wealthsimple you will have access to:
- In addition to more traditional ETFs, you’ll be able to choose from a selection of 6 ETFs, each offering a vetted group of companies that reflect clients’ particular values. For example, it offers a halal investing portfolio, and socially responsible portfolio.
- Automatic rebalancing will be done automatically, so as needed, purchases of stocks and bonds needed for a well–balanced portfolio will be made without you needing to worry about it.
- 3 levels of accounts with varying services and fees: Basic, Black and Generation
While Wealthsimple does offer a range of unique offerings, it comes at a cost with a management fee of 0.4-0.5% depending on account balance. This is higher than most other robo advisor services. In addition, the platform doesn’t offer some of the tools and resources many other platforms do.
Wealthsimple Trade vs Qtrade
Our Wealthsimple Trade review wouldn’t be complete without putting it head-to-head with QTrade, our most recommended discount broker. You can find the basic details and some general comments here, but be sure to check out our Qtrade vs Wealthsimple article as well.
Best Broker in Canada
Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, new issues (IPOs and secondary/treasury offerings), GICs, options
Stocks and ETFs only
Free to buy and sell 100+ ETFs
Free to buy and sell all ETFs
Excellent user experience. One of the best apps on the market.
Web browser can be buggy. App is streamlined but lacks resources and some functionality.
Ranked #1, friendly and accessible customer service that’s second to none.
Almost nonexistent customer service. Next to no support.
$8.75 ($6.95 elite accounts)
RRSP, RESP, TFSA, LIRA, RRIF, LIF, USD accounts. Joint, corporate, and trust options.
Personal, TFSA, RRSP
$25 fee that is easily avoided.
Research Tools and Education Materials
Top-ranked resources for over a decade.
Basic “How to invest” video resources on their site. No analytics or in-depth asset information. Stock info is 15 minutes old.
Mutual Fund Purchases
Yes, free of charge
CIPF Member, IIROC regulated
CIPF Member, IIROC regulated
$50 Cash Bonus + Up to $2,000 Cash Back
$50 Cash Bonus
We have a full Qtrade review in addition to our comparison article, so you can dig deeper if you want all the details…but here’s the gist: If you want to do more than scratch the surface of DIY investing, Qtrade is the clear choice. The only advantage we see in Wealthsimple Trade is that it’s free…and that’s just not good enough.
Wealthsimple Trade Review FAQ
Wealthsimple Trade Review: Final Thoughts
Wealthsimple Trade has the advantage of being a free service (unless you’re investing in crypto or US stocks). However, we question whether the money you save is worth it for a less effective, less informative platform with far fewer options than the competition.
If paying as little as possible to an institution is your ultimate goal and you don’t mind severely limited options, then Wealthsimple Trade is for you. If you want a full range of options and don’t mind paying a bit for it, then consider Qtrade or any of the brokers on our list of the Best Online Brokers in Canada.
We want to stress that we don’t have an issue with Wealthsimple, the company. Wealthsimple Invest is our most-recommended robo-advisor, after all. We’re huge fans of what Wealthsimple is doing on the passive investing front. We just feel strongly that their trading platform misses the mark on several levels.